TORONTO — Ontario has administered thousands of third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to some of the province's most vulnerable residents and will continue to do so despite the World Health Organization calling for a moratorium on the practice.
The global public health agency says vaccine-rich countries should stop offering third shots for the rest of the year so the shots can be diverted to under-vaccinated countries.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province had administered more than 14,500 third doses as of Tuesday night -- a number it plans to start reporting publicly.
Alexandra Hilkene says the added shots offer extra protection against COVID-19 to immunocompromised patients, such as transplant recipients, people receiving treatment for blood cancers, and those who have received an anti-CD20 agent.
She says the COVID-19 vaccine is not as effective in those people, and a third dose helps level the playing field for them.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations on Friday recommended that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised get a course of three shots of vaccine.
The advice comes as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues roiling Ontario.
The province reported 848 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and five deaths linked to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 659 of those infections are in people who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.
Elliott says 361 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 331 of them not fully vaccinated.
She says that 177 people were in intensive care because of the virus, with only 14 of those cases happening in fully vaccinated individuals.
The Ministry of Health says that 84.1 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 77.7 per cent have two doses.
A total of 21,098,125 vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2021.
The Canadian Press